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Tips on Washing Down Jackets

M.H. Dyer

Although down jackets are expensive, they are resilient and long-lasting, and create warmth without adding bulk. Down jackets also breathe, keeping you comfortable by allowing perspiration and other moisture to evaporate.

Wash down jackets before storing them for the season.

Proper care of a down jacket requires regular cleaning, which preserves the appearance, restores the loft and extends the life of the jacket. Although professional dry cleaning is recommended, most down jackets are safely washed and dried at home.

  1. Zip all zippers and fasten Velcro before washing a down jacket. Turn the jacket inside-out.

  2. Set a washing machine on the gentle or delicate cycle with warm water.

  3. Place two or three heavier items, such as a few pairs of jeans, in the machine with the jacket. The heavier items help scrub the jacket and also keep the washing machine balanced.

  4. Wash the down jacket in warm water, using a gentle detergent.

  5. Lift the jacket carefully when transferring it to the dryer, as down jackets are very heavy when wet. Don't twist or wring the garment.

  6. Dry the down jacket in an electric dryer set on low heat, as high temperatures may damage the oils in the down. In some cases, high temperatures may also damage or melt the outer fabric of the jacket.

  7. Place two or three bath towels in the dryer to absorb moisture and speed drying. In addition, add a tennis ball or a clean pair of tennis shoes to the dryer to fluff the down and break up wet clumps.

  8. Remove the jacket from the dryer every five to 10 minutes. Fluff the jacket by hand and return it to the dryer. It may take up to an hour for the jacket to dry completely.

  9. Remove the jacket from the dryer when the down is fluffy and the feathers no longer stick together. Be sure the jacket is completely dry, as damp feathers may mildew.

  10. Shake the jacket to restore the loft.

  11. Tip

    You can also wash the down jacket by hand, using warm water and mild laundry detergent. Squeeze excess moisture gently from the jacket before placing it in the dryer, but never wring or twist the jacket. If the jacket is heavily soiled, allow it to soak for up to an hour before washing.